When Paul Junior High School teacher Billy Kearney told his 26 students that
the lesson being taught by MIT students was over, student Monique Lee
protested, "We don't want to go," according to the front page Boston Globe
account of the students' trip to teach in the inner city Washington schools.
"And she and her classmates stayed fast in their seats," it continued. "Such
was the power of the MIT volunteers, 25 people who gave up the traditional
spring break of sun, sand and surf this week to cross cracked asphalt
playgrounds and teach without pay in the crisis-stricken schools of Washington
The students returned this past weekend full of stories and positive
"The kids were outstanding," said Mike Fife, a graduate student in aeronautics
and astronautics. "They were so clever and curious at that age-it was a
pleasure." Mike and his teaching partner Steve Yoo, a sophomore in biology,
were giving lessons on communication technology to first- through sixth-
graders, using cup-and-string "phones," balloon propulsion devices and a
microphone made out of a shoebox.
"These days, many people need to be reminded that we are in charge of our own
destiny. With work, we can get exactly what we want. Science is a medium for
that message. We work to understand, and then use the understanding to shock
people with astounding experiments. NASA does this all the time," Mr. Fife
While the majority of arrangements for the trip were made by Anthony Ives, a
senior in urban studies and planning, people from across the Institute-from
Emily Sandberg and the Public Service Center to the Edgerton Center to staff
and alumni in Washington area-pitched in to make the trip possible.
The students had a chance to meet with staffers from the offices of Senator
Edward Kennedy and Representative Joseph Kennedy while they were in
Washington. With Senator Kennedy's staff they met with the K-12 education
advisor and the national community service advisor in a lively session that
lasted more than twice the time alloted. "They were ready to take suggestions
from us on issues important to college students and elementary schools," said
Sarah Masiulewicz, a senior in mathematics, who is seeking a job as a high
school math teacher next year. "We talked about issues of educational
technology-is it worth it to put computers in schools where there is no paper
and glue and the paint is peeling?"
The other students participating in the project were Tam Nguyen, Tera Hoefle,
Mandy Mobley, Carina Fung, Angela Chou, Mary Ying, Chelsea Russell, Katin
Shields, Cristina Perez de la Cruz, Misha Hill, Carrie Heitman, Matthew Gray,
Kikuyu Matthews, Sean Yetman, Margaret Tsai, Rhonda Patton, Teresa Huang,
Kalpana Mani and Minh Dinh.